third choice

LVG: Two Dutch players turned down first penalty before Ron Vlaar stepped up

Louis Van Gaal signalled the beginning of finger-pointing season in The Netherlands.

NETHERLANDS COACH LOUIS van Gaal has revealed two of his players refused to step up to take the first penalty in last night’s 4-2 World Cup semi-final shoot-out loss to Argentina.

The ill-fated honour eventually fell to defender Ron Vlaar, whose effort was saved by Argentina keeper Sergio Romero.

“I asked two players ahead of Vlaar to take the first penalty,” van Gaal told Dutch news agency ANP.

“They refused. Vlaar in my view was our best player. Unfortunately he didn’t score,” the Manchester United-bound coach added.

Unlike in the quarter-finals against Costa Rica, the Dutch fell down in the penalty shootout, with both Vlaar — who was arguably the most effective player on the pitch until then — and veteran Wesley Sneijder failing to score against Romero.

“Our penalties against Costa Rica were incredible. That should have given us confidence,” said van Gaal.

“You have to maximise the first penalty shot,” he added.

Van Gaal said he would have brought in replacement goalkeeper Tim Krul, who faced the penalties shootout and saved the day against Costa Rica, to take over from regular goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.

“But I’ve already used my three substitutes at that time – In the end Romero stopped two penalties,” he said.

So if Vlaar, Kuyt, Sneijder and Robben all made it to the penalty spot, who bottled out?

- © AFP, 2014

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